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Amir Asks Court to Permit Him to Hug his Wife


Convicted Rabin assassin Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence, petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court seeking permission to hug his wife Dr. Larissa Trimbobler during visits. Amir claims he is being discriminated against, citing other prisoners are permitted contact with their wives. According to Amir, he and Larissa are husband and wife, married in accordance to Jewish Law by proxy; however, prison authority officials have not recognized the union.

Palestinian Militants Agree to Cease-Fire with Israel

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) &

The Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Sunday that they would maintain a truce with Israel, raising hopes for an end to 4.5 years of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

A Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, said his group is committed to what he termed quiet but won't agree to a formal truce until it sees whether Israel stops its military activities and ends its policy of killing wanted Palestinians. If Israel does not halt its policies, Zahar said the militants would, as he put it, "respond by the old ways." Nafed Azzam, a leader of Islamic Jihad, said Israel has met some of demands of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas had gone to Gaza to urge the militants to fall in line with a cease-fire he agreed upon last Tuesday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Palestinian political analyst Mahdi Abdelhadi said Abbas is trying to bring all militant groups and political factions in line, but with a measured approach and one that has no guarantees of success. " What [all] he can offer them [is] trust me, give me a chance, test me and we will proceed together. Its a matter of eye-to-eye contact and building confidence."

Meanwhile, the joint Israeli-Palestinian security committee met to work out details of the transfer of Jericho and another unspecified West Bank town to Palestinian control. The decision to make the transfer was taken Saturday night in a meeting between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Security Advisor Mohammad Dahlan. The two also agreed the Palestinians could transfer police forces from the West Bank towns of Nablus and Hebron to Jericho for training.

Israel is also considering the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners. The Voice of Palestine radio reported Sunday that Israel would release 270 prisoners on Monday. Most of those are said to be what Israel terms administrative prisoners. The rest are those whose sentences are nearly completed.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said Israel would allow dozens of Palestinians who had been expelled to return to their homes within two weeks. The group includes 56 men expelled from the West Bank to Gaza and 13 who had taken refugee in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during clashes and a siege in May of 2002 and were subsequently expelled to Europe.

In a related story, Hizbullah is planning the assassination of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the British Telegraph reported. Quoting senior PA officials, the newspaper reported that Hizbullah is moving towards an attempted assassination to bring an abrupt halt to renewed diplomatic relations between the PA and Israel. However, Hizbullah released a statement denying it is working to sabotage regional peace-making efforts.

IDF to Start Handing Over Yesha Cities to PA Forces


Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, after meeting with PA officials, has agreed to hand security control over the city of Jericho, located just north of the Dead Sea, to PA forces by mid-week. The handover is expected to be followed by similar IDF withdrawals from Kalkilye and Tul Karm, with further withdrawals contingent upon whether the PA succeeds in curtailing terrorist forces operating from areas under its control. The transfer of authority will be coordinated between IDF Brig. Gen. Gadi Eisenkut and his PLO counterpart in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza), Gen. Haj Ismail.

The details of the IDF withdrawals were hammered out between Mofaz and PA representatives meeting at a Tel Aviv hotel. Among the PA officials attending were Mohammed Dahlan, security aid to Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PA, and "minister" for negotiations Saab Erekat.

As part of the negotiations, Mofaz told PA officials that Israel wants the PA to ban "unauthorized" persons from carrying weapons in PA controlled areas and to reorganize the PA's various armed forces under one authority. Mofaz also requested that the PA seize weapons held by terrorist militias operating out of PA-controlled territories and to take action against factories manufacturing munitions used by terrorist forces.

Although Israel's demands on these issues have not been met, this apparently was not a factor in reaching the agreement to begin transferring security control over Arab cities in Yesha to armed forces belonging to the PA.

And security has been increased for Israeli cabinet ministers who have received death threats from Jewish militants for supporting Israel's proposed removal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. In the latest threat, Yediot Achronot reported that Transport Minister Meir Sheetrit received a letter saying his family would be killed if he continued to support the pullout set for later this year.

Polls show at least two-thirds of Israelis favor ending the occupation of Gaza. But there is strong opposition from settlers and their supporters.

Vice President Of Israel Bar Blasts Expulsion Law


The vice president of the Israeli Bar Association, Yariv Levine, severely criticized the wording of the proposed Expulsion and Compensation Bill currently working its way though various Knesset. Levine severely criticized the wording of the bill, stating the law "grossly tramples on human and civil rights."

Levine explained that numerous provisions of the proposed law contradict basic legal norms generally applied by the Israeli legal establishment. He cites provisions enabling the imprisoning of adults along with minors; allowing for the seizure of property without appropriate compensation and without accounting for damages incurred by pain and suffering. He added that the law treats Israeli residents slated for expulsion as second-class citizens. He asserted that if the expulsion bill had been proposed in contexts other than one for expelling Jews from their homes in Gaza and Samaria, the legal establishment would not be maintaining silence over the problematic issues the law raises.

Levine added that cooperation between the attorney general and leading figures of the legal establishment in drafting the law shows that the system's agenda is unsuitable from a Zionist perspective, because instead of serving the State of Israel, it has become beholden to other interests. Even from a legal standpoint, their agenda is untenable because the law grossly tramples on human and civil rights. What's happening to this group of people can serve as a precedent to be applied to other groups tomorrow.

In Levine's opinion, the public must seize upon every opportunity to challenge the law, including petitions to Israel's High Court of Justice. "I admit that the hope I place on the High Court is limited, but I wouldn't be surprised if certain provisions of the law that are so grossly absurd and stringent would not be overturned by the High Court."

Are Israel Police Setting the Stage for Brutality?


Officials in Israel's Police department are seeking to grant "immunity" to troops who will participate in forcibly removing residents of Gaza and northern Shomron from their homes when the Gaza Disengagement Plan is implemented.

Proponents of the immunity move explain that if a complaint is filed against a police officer that is eligible for promotion, that promotion would be automatically frozen pending the outcome of the investigation against him or her. Officials anticipate many complaints will be filed against police taking part in the disengagement plan and therefore believe immunity would be a method by which they can circumvent such complaints from having an impact on the career of the personnel.

Gush Katif Farmer: "How Do You Uproot One Million Plants?"


Anita Tucker, originally from the U.S. and one of the original Jewish residents of the Gaza Coast communities, asks rhetorically, "How do you evacuate one million plants?" The 59-year-old Tucker has become an expert in growing celery while working in her family hothouses in the Gush Katif farming community of Netzer Hazani. "Every seedling I plant here only strengthens my love for this place," she says. "I speak to the plants and even have names for them."

Anita Tucker, whose husband Mordechai teaches English at a yeshiva high school in the adjacent community of Katif, farms two acres of hothouses among the 1,200 acres of hothouse farms in Gush Katif. She grows celery without insects, in a process that Gush Katif residents have perfected over the past 20 years.

Like most of the Jewish residents in Gaza, she doesn't give much thought to the government's plan to dismantle their homes and transfer the land to the Arabs. "My head is in the plants," she asserts. "I came here when there were only sand dunes, and they told me it was impossible to grow anything here. But my friends and I proved the opposite. Despite the terror and mortar shelling, we are strong and we love this place.

"The prime minister is trying to kill our spirit," said Tucker, "but we are continuing to farm. What is so strange is that after they prepared the law and voted all sorts of things, suddenly Knesset Members arrived here and were impressed. Why do they come to visit now and not beforehand?"


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